From the internationally best-selling author of Kane and Abel and A Prisoner of Birth comes Only Time Will Tell, the first in an ambitious new series that tells the story of one family across generations, across oceans, from heartbreak to triumph.
The epic tale of Harry Clifton’s life begins in 1920, with the words "I was told that my father was killed in the war." A dock worker in Bristol, Harry never knew his father, but he learns about life on the docks from his uncle, who expects Harry to join him at the shipyard once he's left school. But then an unexpected gift wins him a scholarship to an exclusive boys' school, and his life is never the same.
As he enters into adulthood, Harry finally learns how his father really died, but the awful truth only leads him to a question: was he even his father? Is he the son of Arthur Clifton, a stevedore who spent his whole life on the docks, or the firstborn son of a scion of West Country society, whose family owns a shipping line?
This introductory novel in Archer’s ambitious series The Clifton Chronicles includes a cast of colorful characters and takes us from the ravages of the Great War to the outbreak of the Second World War, when Harry must decide whether to take up a place at Oxford or join the navy and go to war with Hitler’s Germany.
From the docks of working-class England to the bustling streets of 1940 New York City, Only Time Will Tell takes listeners on a journey through to future volumes, which will bring to life 100 years of recent history to reveal a family story that neither the listener nor Harry Clifton himself could ever have imagined.
©2011 Jeffrey Archer (P)2011 Macmillan Audio
Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.
I never read a book by Archer before, though I certainly heard his name tossed about. This seemed as good a place as any to start. I skimmed the reviews, it seemed like a generally well-liked book. So I gave it a try.
Over all, I really enjoyed it. For some dumb reason, I decided, while listening to the book, to further scrutinize the reviews, something I should not allow myself to do. I wish I hadn't, as I seemed to focus on the critics of which there are always some. Complaints abounded that Archer is not an elegant writer and that the ending was poor, in that the story finished abruptly offering no satisfaction.
Well, I am here to say that you should not underestimate good old-fashioned storytelling, of which Archer seems to excel. I also believe that from the get-go, he said he was writing a 5 part series about the Clifton's. Well, if that's the case, there are bound to be cliffhangers to keep us interested and going back. Makes sense to me.
I really enjoyed the story which takes place in the early 1900's. Harry and the other characters remain in my thoughts now that I have finished Book 1. Each of 7 characters had their own chapters and each of the "cohorts" got to express their own viewpoints regarding how they perceived Harry Clifton. New things came out in each individual's sections, and in that way, questions were answered. I haven't encountered this writing style before and it worked for me.
As for the much maligned ending? I knew it was going to end abruptly and it had a great twist I never saw coming. The twist and the good storytelling AND a great narration all combined to make me want to get Book 2, which I will.
And anyway, I was not in the mood for a 50-plus hour saga!
I have truly, truly, truly enjoyed this book. The story was so well narrated, and well told until I couldnt put it down. Each and every person involved in the story had their own voice and I could see them in my mind's eye. When the "deep secret" finally came out I could barely contain myself. I loved the twists, and turns and the story told from everyones point of view. I'm only sorry that I will have to wait for the next book to see what happens to Harry. Loved it, loved it!
This story took a longer time to incubate than the five-star Prisoner of Birth. Once the story of Maisy and Harry took more form, the story became more engrossing. Moving in and out of different points of view, Archer uses the brilliant device of narrating the same story from the vantage of each of the seven main characters in the story. Spoiler coming>
As a mini-spoiler, the main evil character does not see justice done, for the most part, in this story, though perhaps time will tell, as the title suggests. And the ending, another Count of Monte Cristo/take someone else's identity similar to the one in Prisoner of Birth, is less satisfying, plausible, and wrapped up as Prisoner of Birth. But worth of credit.
This book had a glaring lack of research. In the book the year is 1934 and the police are reading the Miranda warning, right down to the Supreme Court wording, to someone they had just arrested. The Miranda warning was not implemented until 1966.
Unfortunately this was the only thing that stuck out in a totally unmemorable book. Absolutely predictable at every turn. I sould have used my credit more wisely.
This post World War 1 novel takes place in English, but I would describe it as very light historical fiction. The story follows a fatherless boy (Harry Clifton) who is the son of a dock worker but as a result of an extraordinary singing voice, ends up with a scholarship to a prestigious private school. The first half felt so predictable (class differences, etc.) that I almost stopped listening. There was a bit of a mystery surrounding the death/disappearance of his father. The second half of the novel dealt with that mystery, and felt more like an unrealistic soap opera. I liked Harry and his mother enough that I did listen more eagerly to see what would happen. The end resolves the key issues of book one, but also hooks the reader into the next and very different chapter in Harry's life. No spoilers here, but even though I had already decided that one Clifton book would be enough, the end did intrigue me. If you like your historical fiction edgy and realistic, this is NOT for you. If you like a light weight page-turner, you might enjoy this.
The characters in "Only Time Will Tell" are one-dimensional and trite: The poor, struggling virtuous (or at least mostly virtuous) single mother sacrificing all for her son. The evil, rich ship-yard scion. The hard-working, nice-guy hero. Good grief. At any moment I expected the evil, rich guy to tie the poor, struggling, single mother to the railroad tracks. But that would have been too original for Archer. I fell asleep a few times while listening, only to awake to another absurd plot twist. I won't give any away, but Archer uses every silly soap opera trick. Occasionally, he injects historical facts to set the story in a real timeframe; these references are so obtrusive I'm guessing he employed a researcher and plugged in the researcher's notes whenever he got writer's block. (Note to Archer: fire your researcher. the Miranda case which resulted in the reading of Miranda rights was in 1966.) As one other reviewer stated, "...this is not literature." Nope. Not even close.
The readers' performances, however, are very good.
Now I can't sleep wondering if the characters will reunite. I was so enthralled in the story since the first chapter I just couldn't stop reading. Jeffrey Archer is an AMAZING story teller, and the reader feels like he's right there in the pub, in the ship, in the class, and I absolutely love it to the point of maddening. Bring on the sequel Jeff and lets get answers. Great job from a great writer!
ONLY TIME WILL TELL is my first Jeffrey Archer story. Loved the author's rich historical detail and multi-layered characters.
Reading the multiple points of view took awhile to get used to, but I wound up loving it. The only thing that keeps me from giving the story 5 stars is the cliffhanger.
Archer has a gift for telling a story. I've seen others here compare him to Follett. I can definitely see the similarities. As with Follett the good guys are wonderful, and the bad guys hopelessly despicable. The cliffhanger at the end is more a transition to a new phase of the same story.
I have read or listened to many Archer books in the past. Only Time Will Tell is a well worn tale. Archer has told it many times. It follows the story of a youth from birth through college in the pre-WWII era.
After about a quarter of the way through, I was cheering. I thought this was a great story and was eating it up. Only then it takes on a very strange story telling device. In this book, there are five or six main characters. It proceeds to jump from Harry (the protagonist) to his mother or other character. This is a little off putting, but that is not the crux of the problem. The problem is that the story rewinds and tells exactly what you have just read over again. Only from a different point of view. I believe that an author could have pulled this off, but the manner in which Archer approached this style felt very off.
So in the end, a story that had all the makings of a quality guilty pleasure turned into a confused jaggedly structured narrative.
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